from whom all blessings flow
by Kayla Raymond
Although I’m celebrating Christmas day in Iowa, we spent a lot of time in the past two weeks celebrating the birth of Jesus in Haiti.
At ViBella, we spent a day getting pedicures, having a nice meal together and each employee received new Bibles. At the school, all the staff reflected on all the great things that are happening on the mountaintop and talked about more ways to influence the students. We shared a meal together and each member of the staff received a small present also. Through Touch of Hope, we were able to bless over 35 sponsored children with gifts. Then, two Sundays ago, 24 of “my” Haitian village children gathered around two picnic tables to hear the story of Christmas.
Although people only know me as a mother of two, I would actually consider myself a “mama” to many of the children in Simonette. Most of these children have parents of their own, but when they have fevers, coughs, or scrapes they come to me for medicine. They always make sure to tell me when it is their birthday and I scramble to put a special package together for them. They’ve been the children that made me fall in love with Simonette from the beginning. They’re the kids that have been the best Creole teachers and taught me all about “village life”. They’re the ones who come running around the corner to greet me each morning as I walk to work. They’re my inspiration.
Last Christmas, we celebrated with them at our house so I guess it is becoming a tradition.
The teenage girls and I cooked a Haitian meal together for all the younger kids and before we ate my friend Jean Marc helped translate and tell the Christmas story. After dinner we opened presents, which was made possible by all the faithful supporters who drop off donations at our house. We ended the night watching Madagascar 3 on the side of a building in downtown Simonette. It was a beautiful evening!
Let me introduce you to the rest of my “kids”….
Aren’t they beautiful children?
As I sit and relax today, going through all my pictures, I’m reminded how truly blessed I am this holiday season. The past 7 months of living full-time in Haiti has been hard, challenging and I’ve seen so much already it seems like I’ve been living there for much longer. Yet the difficulty is overcome by simplicity and joy. The joy on these children faces should remind us all that it doesn’t have to take hundreds of dollars to bring joy; it can be the junk in your closets that can bring joy. (as I mentioned before all the gifts were donations)
I see the joy in the ViBella employees who are grateful to have a job everyday. The 700 students who have a school to go to. The 28 staff members who are influencing the next generation. My two boys who have someone to call “mama” and “papa”.
It is a joy that comes from a God who was so humble that he sent His one and only son to be born in a manger. A son who would later die on a cross for our sins. It is a joy that flows from a God who reveals himself as never changing, ever faithful and truly graceful.
May these smiles and the season remind us of the simplicity in the Christmas story and bring us to our knees in adoration. May God bless you this season and in the New Year.